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The Beloit College Mindset List

Tomorrow's Academy

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Food has always been a health concern. Consumer awareness about ingredients and fats has always been energized. They've never "rolled down" a car window, and to them Jack Nicholson is mainly known as the guy who played "The Joker.


Welcome to the 2007-08 academic year. Let's kick things off with what has been one of the most popular postings on the TP Listserv over the years, the annual "Beloit College Mindset List," that looks at today's college freshman and what they have and have not experienced in their short lifetimes. The results are both useful and sobering for any professor over 30. So here it is for the entering class of 2007 who will graduate in 20011.


Rick Reis

UP NEXT: The Socratic Method: What it is and How to Use it in the Classroom

Tomorrow's Academia

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The Beloit College Mindset List

A note about the Beloit College Mindset List. To save readers the time and effort of writing to us about the Beloit College Mindset List, we offer four brief explanations.

The Mindset List is not a chronological listing of things that happened in the year that the entering first-year students were born.

Our effort is to identify a worldview of 18 year-olds in the fall of 2007. We take a risk in some cases of making generalizations, particularly given that our students at Beloit College for instance come from every state and scores of nations.

The "Class of 2011" refers to students entering college this year. They are generally 18 which suggests they were born in 1989.

The list identifies the experiences and event horizons of students as they commence higher education and is not meant to reflect on their preparatory education.

We welcome correspondence, suggestions, and requests regarding the Mindset List.

Ron Nief

Tom McBride

Beloit, Wis. -- When they welcome the class of 2011 in the coming weeks, American colleges and universities will be saying hello to the generation born as the Cold War was ending. For them, a Russia with multiple political parties and a China with multiple business enterprises seems quite normal. They've grown up in a time of triumphant capitalism, where it's common for stadiums to be named after corporations and where product placements have always been yet another clever way for companies to sell their wares.

Each August for the past decade, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. Its 70 items provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today's first-year students, most of them born in 1989. It is the creation of Beloit's Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief.

Latchkey kids for most of their lives, students entering college this fall think nothing of arriving home with parents still at work, then e-mailing or texting their friends, instantly updating their autobiographies on "Facebook" or "MySpace," and listening to their iPods while doing their research on Wikipedia. They've grown up with Rush Limbaugh urging his fellow Dittoheads to excoriate liberals, with having been taught by an equal number of women and men in the classroom, and with women having been hired as police chiefs of major cities.

Food has always been a health concern. Consumer awareness about ingredients and fats has always been energized. They've never "rolled down" a car window, and to them Jack Nicholson is mainly known as the guy who played "The Joker."

As usual, they remind their elders how quickly time has passed. For them Pete Rose has never been in baseball. Abbie Hoffman's always been dead. Johnny Carson has never been live on TV, and Nelson Mandela has always been free.

As for the Berlin Wall, what's that?

Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.

1. What Berlin wall?

2. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.

3. Rush Limbaugh and the "Dittoheads" have always been lambasting liberals.

4. They never "rolled down" a car window.

5. Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.

6. They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.

7. They have grown up with bottled water.

8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.

9. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.

10. Pete Rose has never played baseball.

11. Rap music has always been mainstream.

12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!

13. "Off the hook" has never had anything to do with a telephone.

14. Music has always been "unplugged."

15. Russia has always had a multi-party political system.

16. Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.

17. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.

18. The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.

19. Classmates could include Michelle Wie, Jordin Sparks, and Bart Simpson.

20. Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.

21. Eastern Airlines has never "earned their wings" in their lifetime.

22. No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of "liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."

23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.

24. Being "lame" has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.

25. Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.

26. Katie Couric has always had screen cred.

27. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.

28. They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola "MagiCan."

29. They were too young to understand Judas Priest's subliminal messages.

30. When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.

31. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.

32. They grew up in Wayne's World.

33. U2 has always been more than a spy plane.

34. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as "The Joker."

35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.

36. American rock groups have always appeared in Moscow.

37. Commercial product placements have been the norm in films and on TV.

38. On Parents' Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz with daughter Zöe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford with son Cody.

39. Fox has always been a major network.

40. They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-head laugh.

41. The "Blue Man Group" has always been everywhere.

42. Women's studies majors have always been offered on campus.

43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.

44. Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.

45. They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.

46. Most phone calls have never been private.

47. High definition television has always been available.

48. Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.

49. Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.

50. Smoking has never been allowed in public spaces in France.

51. China has always been more interested in making money than in reeducation.

52. Time has always worked with Warner.

53. Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.

54. The purchase of ivory has always been banned.

55. MTV has never featured music videos.

56. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.

57. Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.

58. They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.

59. They're always texting 1 n other.

60. They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.

61. They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.

62. They have no idea who Rusty Jones was or why he said "goodbye to rusty cars."

63. Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.

64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.

65. Illinois has been trying to ban smoking since the year they were born.

66. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.

67. Chronic fatigue syndrome has always been debilitating and controversial.

68. Burma has always been Myanmar.

69 Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.

70. Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.